ROMANS: ROAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS
Free to Reject God but not Free From Itís Consequences
Jerry A Collins
How many times in life do we get away with it. We cheat on our taxes and the govt never finds out. We speak evil of someone effecting anotherís attitude toward him getting what we wanted while that person never discovers our duplicity. I overspend and get into a load of debt only to file chapter 11.† If we are not sensitive, we will conclude that there are no consequences I need to be fearful of when I choose to deliberately sin against God and His will. We are taught that it is our right to determine how we will live our lives and we will learn to manage whatever the consequences are that may come along with that choice. Our passage will tell us that while we are free to reject God and His Righteousness we are not free from the consequences of this open rebellion against God and His standard. The argument began in 1:1-17 where it was demonstrated that there is a universal need for the gospel of God. Every human being needs to trust Christ because everyone lacks the righteousness God requires before He will accept you. This need exists because human beings are condemned before God under His judgment, helpless, hopeless in sin. Our passage explains both the reasons for and results of this guilt before God and the judgment it brings.
1. MANKIND IS MORALLY CULPABLE BEFORE GOD BECAUSE HE REJECT GOD 18-27
God never condemns without just cause. It is not arbitrary or unfair or fickle. How do we reject God?
A. We suppress the truth of God 18. This is not something God takes lightly. We are told that His wrath is revealed from heaven against this. It means that God is displeased with this sin. This displeasure, he tells us, is presently being revealed or seen in the world of men. It is something we can see being expressed in the world today. This wrath is being directed against two things (1) all ungodliness, that is, all that neglects God and qualifies as rebellion against Him and (2) all unrighteousness, that is, injustice and wickedness toward human beings. So against both God and man these are suppressing the truth, that is, the truth they know about God vs 25 that effects the way they treat people and this suppression is with a wicked attitude.
B. We ignore the revelation of the knowledge of God in the world 19-20. This knowledge is called natural revelation vs 20. Creation bears testimony to itís Maker and every human has it in plain site. (1) This knowledge was not some mystical type but one visible, clear or plain 19-20. This is true because God has made it plain. (2) Everyone can understand it. We draw conclusions about Creator from creation. (3) Every generation, since creation of world has had this testimony. (4) It may not reveal everything about God but some things, namely, His invisible qualities of ageless power and divine nature reflected in His creative work. Conclusion: NO EXCUSE! This witness so clear, so constant that ignoring it indefensible. Culpability not based on rejecting Christ but sinning against the light they already have.
C. We make God into an image of our own liking 21-23. The history of mankind gives the evidence of our rebellious ways. Altho this truth has been known throughout the history of mankind, man has willfully refused to not honor God as God nor to be thankful to Him. So, instead two things have happened. (1) Futility of thinking 21-22. Worthless or purposeless, vain thoughts, speculations or reasoning. Leaving them with a morally senseless standard. Unwilling to submit to an absolute and universal standard of righteousness they produce one of their own. Progressively, they became fools, to become stupid, and their claim to be wise is only an idle boast. (2) The outcome of this foolishness has been idolatry 23. The wordplay between incorruptible/corruptible or immortal/mortal emphasizes contrast and manís willingness to give allegiance to the lesser. So mythology and idolatry result from manís desire to identify some power greater than himself as something to attain for himself rather than someone he is accountable too. Just wishing that to be so, suppressing the evidence all around, cannot make it so. The insanity or stupidity of idolatry results from refusal to acknowledge God as God leading to a downward spiral of guilt, immorality and culpability. The final verdict is that mankind is morally culpable before God because of his documented rebellion against God. 2. RESULT OF MANKINDíS CULPIBILITY IS JUDGMENT
There is more than just natural consequences to rebellion. God did not just let nature takes it course but abandoned people to expressions of a life deserving of Godís wrath. In other words, God let man have what he wanted and the consequences that go along with it. Judgment comes in the form of letting us have what we want.
A. God gives us over to impurity 24-25. The linkage between sexual perversions in 24 and idolatry in 25 may be referring to the worship of gods through sexual acts related to these practices. It could also refer to the void left from refusing God that is filled with and exchanged for sexual freedom and God-making. Godís divine displeasure is seen in the removal of restraint that allows sinners to reap the just fruits of their rebellion.
B. God gives us over to perversion 26-27. The degrading passions here are sexual. The perversion is a deliberate exchange of natural relations between a man and a women for an unnatural one motivated by and inflamed with a sexual lust. A man for a man and a woman for a woman.† It is not because they are born that way. Such lustful and indecent acts have within them the seeds of punishment. Trapped in the image of who they think they are. Intrinsic to sin is a sense of shame Genesis 3, they hid themselves. Most crime is committed under cover of darkness. Instinctively we seek to hide whatever wrong we have done. Some will even call evil good, openly confess and commit what others seek to hide. People quickly fall beyond redemption when they lose sense of shame when sinning.
C. God gives us over to depravity 28-32. As people disapproved of idea of God, so God gave them over to this mindset letting loose all kinds of illogical, irrational behavior. Mental vacuum created by dismissing God was filled full with (1) Sins of character 29a. (2) Anti-social sins 29b-30a. (3) Prideful sins 30b. (4) Sins against nature 30c-31. This pattern of evil in open defiance of God is aggravated (a) by fully knowing that such things deserve death & (b) by encouraging others in same lifestyle. Leaving a legacy of unbelief. Such bold-faced rebellion fully warrants Godís condemnation.
1. Never sanction or give approval to what God calls evil. You cannot hide your motives or actions from God. He will bring them to light.
2. Never ask God for what you already know He does not want you to have. God punishes by letting us have what we want. Idolatry, God let have idols. Immoral, God grants wish. If granted not experiencing His goodness, but rather His wrath.
3. The debate about truth is not if absolute but who gets to define it. Me or God!